Catalysis is the change in rate of any chemical reaction owing to inclusion of one or more external substances that are termed as catalysts. Chemical reactions usually involve consumption of the constituents to form new molecular structures. Catalysts are unique participants in a chemical reaction as they themselves do not participate in the chemical reaction and are not consumed by it. Catalysis includes different types of functions based on necessity of the reaction process. Catalysts that contribute to enhance reaction speed are termed as positive catalysts and those that slow down a reaction are called inhibitors.
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Catalysts are broadly classified as heterogeneous and homogeneous. Solid catalysts are mostly heterogeneous catalysts. Heterogeneous catalysts are the more predominantly used type of catalysts. Catalysts are mainly used in petroleum refinery, chemical synthesis, polymerization and environmental applications. Catalyst demand in 2012 was worth USD 19.2 billion and is forecast to reach USD 24.1 billion by the end of 2018, growing at a CAGR of 3.9% between 2012 and 2018. Environmental application is the fastest growing segment of the catalysts market in terms of revenue and is poised to play an important role in revenue generation in the years to come. Focus on launch of innovative products through increased research and development in the field of environmental catalysts is viewed as the most lucrative area in this market.
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Catalysts can also be classified on the basis of materials. This includes zeolites, metals, chemical compounds and others. Zeolites are mainly employed in petroleum refineries, while metals are predominantly used in the field of emission reduction applications. However, chemical compounds dominate the demand for catalysts in terms of both volume as well as revenue. The demand for catalysts is mainly driven by increasingly stringent emission reduction regulations across the world.
Moreover, growth trend in end user industries like petroleum refineries, chemical synthesis and polymer manufacturing are driving demand for catalysts across the world. BASF SE, W R Grace, Johnson Matthey, Albemarle Corporation, Haldor Topsoe, and Honeywell (UOP LLC) are some of the major manufacturers of catalysts.